For many, the beginning of the year is about setting goals and making plans for how to reach them. But this year feels different — the uncertainty and disruptions we are still experiencing in the wake of the pandemic, make it difficult to know where to even begin. Old formulas and strategies that we are used to leaning on are not effective anymore, and it’s unclear what to apply in their place. The world of global mobility has been particularly beset with uncertainty as one of the most basic ideas behind it — the crossing of borders — has been impossible to predict and plan for these past couple of years.
But, as uncertain as things are right now, there are many well-informed ideas about what the year (and beyond) might have in store and what to think about when it comes to charting a path for success and keeping a competitive edge. The most important idea, the one that works its way into almost all other aspects of how to create success in 2022 is this: taking care of “your people”, your employees. Without a healthy, invested employee base, success — however you define it — will be hard to come by.
KPMG’s Global Assignment Policies and Practices survey (published at the end of 2021) mentions in the very introduction of the report the role employees play in the success of a company as they write: “CEOs identified their employee value proposition as the top operational priority to achieve their growth objectives”. Employers will need to figure out how to meet employee needs, not only to ensure they are performing at the top of their abilities but to retain and attract talent as well.
What Employees are Looking For
The complication here is that employees are not looking for the same things now as they were even a year ago. Life and work have been altered, and as people have had to adjust, their expectations and needs have changed. What that means in practical terms for employers will be different from company to company but there are some general trends to use as a guide.
Employees are looking for:
- A clear plan for ESG goals (environmental, social, governance). It’s not enough for employers to craft a message of diversity goals or environmental engagement without action and follow-through. This extends to demanding accountability from vendors and includes reporting progress and results.
- A recognition that mental health is taken seriously and that there is adequate coverage, and that progressive policies are in place to promote better mental health.
- A work environment that values work-life balance and real measures that allow for it.
- Flexibility in when and where to work — at the office, at home, a combination of both.
What About Global Mobility?
Unsurprisingly, the basic question of what global mobility will look like going forward is still front and center for many global companies. The KPMG survey points out that one of the reasons for believing in the return of global mobility is that it’s an important recruitment tool — many employees still see the opportunity to work abroad as a career enhancer. It is also a way for companies to improve on diversity and social consciousness.
The report says: “Evolving business models and the war for talent are expected to continue to drive the development of new and diverse talent mobility needs for organizations. Pandemic-related complications have led to more innovation and more reliance on flexible work options both domestically and abroad. As more borders open and viral infection rates decline globally, we fully expect business travel to resume albeit with less frequency and shorter trips.”
Building support for the altered circumstances in which global mobility operates will become a top priority in 2022. Some of the issues that employers are grappling with are:
Compliance — Compliance has always been a concern when managing global talent and the pandemic has only complicated the matter.
Greater need for real-time risk assessment/management — Risk assessment and management have become more complex and more urgent, as they cover a wider scope compared to pre-pandemic times, and as they are more time-sensitive than ever before.
Distributed workforce — The distributed workforce is here to stay and with that comes advantages as well as challenges. For employers, this means considering the effects on company culture, engagement, and communication, and implementing strategies for countering some of the possible negative outcomes such as feelings of isolation or broken communication. Some of the benefits of a distributed workforce include being able to hire from a greater talent pool, being a nimble company that can work across time zones, and greater opportunities for diversity.
Meeting the Demands of the Future
Many agree that the answers to meet the demands of the future will be found by combining hi-tech solutions with outsourcing for services while providing flexible support to fulfill new mobility needs. Employers are looking to:
- Build flexible policies for relocation support.
- Build cohesive vendor partnerships to support global talent in areas such as intercultural knowledge, as well as in tax, immigration, and employment laws, and for fulfilling duty of care.
- Explore new technology and apply virtual solutions for collaboration, education, and communication. Vistage.com writes: “Nearly every industry needs to consider the impact of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and digitization. Those who choose not to participate will be left behind.”
The new year may not have started off as we hoped and uncertainty may still be the prevailing feeling, but as Amir Husain writes on Forbes.com: “If there is one thing we should be certain of about the future, it is that it will indeed bring forth many surprises. Even trends we are aware of now and think we understand will, in time, drive outcomes at a scale hard for us to imagine.”
By: Felicia Shermis